When Polidoro da Caravaggio arrived in Rome around 1515, possibly untrained, he was hired to carry plaster for Raphael's workshop in the Vatican. Under foreman Giulio Romano and co-worker Perino del Vaga, Polidoro advanced quickly to fresco painter.
Between 1524 and 1527, Polidoro became renowned for his monochrome re-creations of Roman history that spanned palace facades. When Charles V's armies sacked Rome in 1527, Polidoro fled the city, traveling to Naples, where he had escaped Rome's plague in 1524. In Messina by 1528, far from Italy's artistic centers, Polidoro settled upon a strong, consistent style from which he deviated little. Using lively, loose brushwork, he painted mainly religious scenes infused with a sense of drama and intense emotion.
A prolific draftsman, Polidoro drew in preparation for paintings and for its own sake. His drawings express inventive fantasy and real experience with force and emotion. Tradition has it that his servant murdered Polidoro for his money.